Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 10:23 am
When it came out in February, I told friends that the Angel Olsen album Burn Your Fire For No Witness was my favorite of the year so far. Now, here in late October, my love for that record has only grown deeper. The songs are sullen at times, on fire at others. All are memorable. It's one of those perfect records.
Where would Halloween be without ghosts — those wispy spirits either friendly or fiendish in disposition? They've haunted our consciousness for ages, thanks to appearances in visual art, literature, film and music. And now they've overrun this puzzler. From country and classical to rock and jazz, ghosts glide through these songs. Some are nice, others nefarious. Score high and allow yourself to be treated today. Score low and consider yourself tricked.
On this week's All Songs Considered, Robin Hilton shares the first single from Belle & Sebastian's upcoming album, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, out Jan. 20. If they're looking for it, "The Party Line" would give those girls what they want — it's a surprisingly bouncy song from the veteran Scottish band.
Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 7:50 am
Every fall, hundreds of bands migrate to New York City for the annual CMJ Music Marathon. Many of these groups are playing their first shows in NYC and for a lot of the audience — music journalists, college dj's and fans alike — it's their first taste of these young upstarts. My previous CMJ discoveries include such favorites as Courtney Barnett, Public Service Broadcasting, Foxygen, The Blow, Zola Jesus, Caveman ... the list is long.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the fake blood we ordered for our son's Andrew W.K. costume is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on Halloween music.
Drummer Janet Weiss is a force. For the past 20 years, her distinctive punch, precision and signature head swing while at the kit has been a fierce anchor for the bands Quasi, Wild-Flag, Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks and most prominently Sleater-Kinney. Now that Sleater-Kinney is back together, following an eight-year hiatus, it seems like the perfect time to share some of Weiss' favorite fills (and a few intros) for this week's Drum Fill Friday.
Robin Bacior's honeyed but vibrant voice hits gently, bestowing the listener with comfort and calm. The Portland singer-songwriter knows exactly what kind of arrangements suit her best: In "If It Does," from her forthcoming album Water Dreams, that gorgeous voice is laid atop a spare but shimmering bed of piano — and paired perfectly with Dan Bindschedler's cello.
This is subtle, nuanced music: Like the rest of Bacior's work, "If It Does" doesn't grab you audaciously. But it doesn't let go, either.
Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:29 am
Growing up sucks. Growing up is awesome. You trade in the insecurities of one age for another, and yet somehow become wiser in the process — or at least that's the idea. After just a couple of solid EPs, that seems to be the crossroads where the Brooklyn band Chumped stands right now. "Name That Thing" comes from a debut album with an appropriate title: Teenage Retirement.
Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 7:51 am
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The band Sleater-Kinney (Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss) is back together, and we're all pretty excited at All Songs Considered! After an eight-year hiatus, and nearly ten years since releasing their last album, Carrie and company have announced a new, upcoming record and a brand new song called "Bury Our Friends." The album, No Cities To Love, is due out Jan. 20.
Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:30 am
If you're like most people, the first time you hear a song might well be through laptop speakers. But if you're listening to an instrumental rock band as mammoth as Black Clouds, those tinny sound holes become pathetic little slaps to the face. The bass frequencies and thundering drums of "And Then I Dove" are meant to vibrate through the chest, while the Washington, D.C. band's heavy melodies are tastefully driven through what's surely a spaceship-console-worthy rack of effects pedals.
Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:30 am
What happened to your brain the first time you heard the way My Bloody Valentine's seismic guitar crunch seemed to bend space? Did you bend with it? The first 10 seconds of Wildhoney's "Fall In" know that moment, wash it in a mess of crashing cymbals, and pull back the gauzy covers for a dreamy pop song that feels like the day between summer and autumn. It's bright and carefree, full of purpose and light, as Lauren Shusterich coos and leads us into the swirling foliage.
Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 9:19 am
Sleater-Kinney is back together, has a new album coming out Jan. 20 via Sub Pop records, and will go on tour early next year. The album is called No Cities to Love, and you can listen to the first single, "Bury Our Friends," right here.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the shoes our kids outgrew in the time it took to have them shipped is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on remedial music fandom.
One thing that really struck me while putting together this week's batch of drum fills is how different they sound. I don't mean the timing or fill patterns themselves. I mean the timbre of the drums and the way they were recorded. You've got the super tight kits that pop with no ambient trails, the roomy kits that sound like they were captured with a single microphone twenty feet away, a brushed kit that rumbles and rattles. I love it! And all of the chosen kits and recording choices have a massive effect on how we ultimately feel about the song.
Originally published on Thu October 16, 2014 10:22 am
Next week, the CMJ Music Marathon will fill New York City with even more great music than normal. Every fall, the festival brings hundreds of bands to the city's many venues, and NPR Music will be there again this year. On Oct. 22 at (Le) Poisson Rouge, we will present a free concert featuring a multi-genre lineup of rising stars, and we'd love to see your smiling faces there.
Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 2:36 pm
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Host Bob Boilen kicks off this week's show with a buzzing song from Toronto-based The Rural Alberta Advantage's new album, Mended With Gold. Inspired by the track's killer percussion, Robin Hilton shares the neurotic, upbeat "Paradise Girls" from Deerhoof's upcoming album La Isla Bonita, out Nov. 3.
Originally published on Sat October 11, 2014 9:33 am
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the promotional ghost peppers we unwittingly spilled on our pants is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for music to fill your head with sound, but not distractions.
Quint Smith writes via Twitter: "I'd love to see that editing playlist with Stars Of The Lid you mentioned on [Pop Culture Happy Hour] posted somewhere. I'm in need of ideas."
Originally published on Tue October 14, 2014 10:38 am
This week's puzzler comes courtesy Stella Mozgawa, drummer for the L.A. rock group Warpaint. The band is currently on tour for its moody, self-titled album, released at the beginning of the year. Mozgawa's picks for this week's quiz range from '80s pop to experimental rock, R&B and electronic music. Good luck, careful listeners!
Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 9:40 am
Brooklyn's The Lone Bellow seemed to arrive fully formed: Its self-titled 2013 debut came stuffed with intricately assembled bundles of crowd-pleasing folk-pop, each more dramatic and infectious than the last. Charismatic, photogenic, endlessly hooky — The Lone Bellow has been the complete package since day one.
Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:40 am
In the uncertainty between dreams and reality, there's a moment before waking when images blur into a glassy-eyed soup. Originally released on cassette in January and now seeing wider release, Hungry Cloud Darkening's "I Am Seen" embraces that beautiful unease on the trio's forthcoming Glossy Recall.
Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 11:12 am
Earlier this year I heard a voice like no other. In fact, when I heard the song "Different Pulses," I was sure it was a woman. I imagined someone like Janis Joplin. But the singer, the young Israeli Asaf Avidan, is the man in the photo above. He's well known back home and in Europe — an unauthorized remix of "One Day/Reckoning Song" has fifteen million views on YouTube. When he came to the U.S.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the ingredients to an Ozzy Osbourne costume that'll fit a 10-year-old girl is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on managing a library while maintaining one's connection to music.
I don't get out to see many films these days. But I did recently catch a matinee of the super duper popcorn movie Guardians Of The Galaxy. In addition to some spectacular CGI, the film was supported by a solid foundation of Top 40 Hits, largely from the 1970s, such as Elvin Bishop's "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" and The Runaways "Cherry Bomb." At some point it occurred to me that the soundtrack had a lot of good candidates for a puzzler. So ... here it is: The Guardians Of The Galaxy edition of Drum Fill Friday. Good luck, careful listeners!
Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 7:31 am
Let's go out on a very distant limb here: If Mr. Mister's atmospheric 1985 ballad "Broken Wings" had been written for a proggy space opera, it might sound something like Kayo Dot's "The Mortality Of Doves." It's not just because of birds, either. Toby Driver has always been an extremely fluid composer in the realms of avant-metal and prog-rock, but this 12-minute lead track from Coffins On Io is a surprise.
I once went to a show where the lead singer stripped naked on stage and tried to set his pubic hair on fire. Tragically, his lighter wouldn't work. Try to picture him standing there, completely naked, sadly flicking the lighter over and over and only getting sparks. Finally, one of the three or four people actually in attendance reached up to the stage and handed him theirs. The singer thumbed the lighter, his hair went up in one almost instant poof and the stench of burnt hair filled the club.